An enthralling and thought-provoking arts extravaganza has returned to Portland - and there’s still plenty of time to get involved.

The biennial b-side festival launched on Friday with drinks and nibble at Stonehall, Chiswell, a former chapel built in 1854 just a stone’s throw from the famous Chesil Beach. Guests then went on to John Maine’s Earthworks, a short walk away at West Weares, to witness the elemental magic of bronze casting performed live by artist Katie Sturridge.

Organisers said the launch was an ‘impressive start’ and that they were pleased the festival has returned to the ‘beautiful island of Portland’.

A spokesman said: “On Friday the first performance of Katie Surridge and Stephen Coles’ performative bronze casting on the beach took place. Hundreds of onlookers watched as the two poured molten bronze into plates as the sun went down.”

Highlights include:

* Leni Dothan’s Portland Rehabilitation Centre is open at The High Angle Battery and is host to 200 Portland Stones painted with pollution-detecting paint. The stones were left to be polluted in London and now as the Portland air cleanses them the face of the boy screaming that is engrained into them by pollution will erase slowly.

* Raphael Daden will be installing an enthralling light exhibition that winds around the underground ghost tunnels and caves.

* Claudia Antonius and Jorg Jozwiak’s installation of the ‘Easton Ridge National Park’ sign- Almost 20 per cent of Easton Ridge – the famous mountain range south of Easton and highlight of every Portland visit – has now been declared a protected area.

During the nine-day festival - which runs until Sunday, September 16 - Portland is playing host to a varied programme of exciting new commissions from a diverse collection of artists. The festival aims to work in harmony with the island’s unique history, geology and character.